Man painting over a pickleball court into a tennis court.
The battle between spaces for pickleball and tennis rages on. Shutterstock

Fairfax County Park Authority removes pickleball courts following community sit-in

DALLAS, TX – The turf wars between pickleball players and tennis players are growing increasingly tense, and I couldn’t be more saddened by it.

Last month, pickleball enthusiasts in Annandale, VA were battling with the Fairfax County Park Authority over the fact that their beloved courts were slated to be repainted into tennis courts following noise complaints from nearby residents.

On June 14, four pickleball regulars were in the middle of a match when the Fairfax County Park Authority interrupted their game and attempted to shut down the court for maintenance. Things got heated when the workers took down the nets.

To show their collective discontent, the players staged a sit-in, so the Fairfax County Park Authority workers couldn't proceed with their conversion plans.

Ten days later, the relining effort began again. Only this time, with a security guard present and a “No Trespassing” sign that threatened a $2,500 fine for violators.

“We felt this was a reasonable precaution given the initial experience and our desire to ensure that our staff could fulfill their assignment in a peaceful, orderly fashion,” stated Fairfax County Park Authority officials.

The pickleball players denied any hostile behavior or language that would require security on-site.

Resident Bill O’Neill eloquently discussed the tricky situation.

“The county is being unreasonable in the way that they’re handling this. Pickleball is a wonderful way for the community to get together,” he said. “It’s quite upsetting. We worked so hard to get here and now it’s all gone.”

After all the success stories of unused tennis courts across America turning into booming social scenes by converting them into pickleball courts, it’s so sad to see this reversal.

There’s already a court shortage, and now there are a few less pickleball courts in this community.

Unfortunately, this is a bit of a lose–lose situation. As someone who has dealt with noisy neighbors, I can certainly empathize with complaints. There’s nothing more irritating when you just want to come home to some peace and quiet and your neighbors are rowdy. 

Perhaps the remedy is a time restriction on the courts. Have a worker close and lock the gate every night at sunset and open it again at sunrise. That way the noise issues are resolved and everyone's happy. 

It’s a little too late in this matter, though. The courts are configured for tennis again and residents must find new places to play.